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Friday, 18 September 2015

Thali & Tandoor

 I love when you receive a message from a great friend that you're not lucky enough to see much, suggesting getting together. Especially when said friend suggests going for a curry! I adore Indian food, but with my gorgeous pal being Indian, she usually fancies something different, Indian food being just, well, food in her house.

But this week she found herself on my wavelength, fancying Indian fare cooked by a different hand. So off we ventured from work to see where we would end up.

A particular restaurant has been on my radar for some time. Opening in early 2014, I kept noticing it on my way through that part of town. With a fresh, modern look and great reviews coming out of its ears, Thali & Tandoor seemed to be a definite on the 'Must Visit' list.

 Offering 'ghar ka khana' or food from the home, Thali & Tandoor boast that they offer a unique insight into Indian cooking, providing home and street foods from the subcontinent, as opposed to the Asian/European hybrid dishes you find being served up in your standard curry house. Online reviews and feedback from pals that have been previously all stated the same thing - this place is great.
Having met straight from work, we arrived at the restaurant early, and for the main part of our visit, were the only customers. Eager to eat, we began scouring through the menu. It is pretty impressive, with a varied selection of different styles of dish, and providing amply for vegetarians. We decided on our dishes and waited patiently to place our order. And waited. Having been the only people there, we had expected to be served swiftly, but it did take quite a while to even order our drinks. This set the tone for our visit, with lengthy waits tainting an otherwise pleasant experiences.
However we did eventually order, and the food was quick to arrive. Our starters - vegetable somosa chaat and onion bhajia fritters - were lovely, and indeed different from what you would expect. My fritters were served in a heated cast iron trough, with a tomato, cucumber and onion salsa spooned on top and a rich house sauce drizzled all over. The perfect size for a starter, it really whet my appetite for the main. The combination of flavours was perfect and beautifully presented.

For our main dishes, we settled on saag aloo, paneer, pepper and sweet potato shashlik, naan bread and tandoori roti. Again, presentation was lovely and appealing, the food smelled great. We did have to ask for part of the dish, the sauces, to be served as it had been forgotten. As with the time we had to wait before ordering, this was a small hiccup, and one that, had they been exceptionally busy, you could completely understand. But at this point, only one other party had settled down at a table. It was also a relatively integral component to the meal itself, so it was a pity that we had to wait for it.

The main dishes did taste good, but unlike the starters, they didn't feel quite as special or as diverse.

The time came to get the bill and pay, but again, we were left unattended for a good 15 minutes before our attempts to garner attention were spotted. That said, our server was lovely and couldn't have been more pleasant.

Once we had paid we stepped out into the evening and discussed our experience. We both agreed that, whilst palatable, having to wait for lengthy intervals to order drinks, order food, receive the bill and pay did interrupt the enjoyment of the evening, and the food wasn't quite delectable enough to make it worthwhile. That said, it is a beautiful space and I can imagine in busier periods it has a great atmosphere, and others have sung its praises on review sites and in passing, so perhaps a future visit and being a bit more experimental with our choices could persuade us otherwise. But with so many other exciting restaurants opening up in this area, that could be a while off.

Regardless of where we go, when in each others' company we will always enjoy ourselves, and, reminiscing about past events and evenings out, we took a stroll along the river back to the car and aimed for home.

 Follow the link to see Thali & Tandoor's menu for yourself - http://www.thaliandtandoor.co.uk/food.

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